By Morris Phillips
Trade deadline activity that strengthens a competing club is energizing for the fans and organization. But it can be agonizing for players who may be on the departing end of a big trade.
Once the trade deadline passes, nervousness ceases and everybody gets back to work.
On Monday night in Phoenix, Alex Dickerson got back to work.
The Giants’ burly left fielder hit a grand slam to give the Giants a big lead, only to see it evaporate, and force the club to regain control in extra innings in an 11-8 victory over the Diamondbacks. With the acquisition of Kris Bryant, Dickerson had to be wondering about his current status with the club with Bryant offering a better option for the team’s outfield spots. But Monday found Bryant and Dickerson in the lineup together, a clear sign that manager Gabe Kapler hadn’t forgotten what a menace Dickerson has been when facing Arizona.
“He’s had quite a bit of success against the D-backs,” Kapler said. “He’s had quite a bit of success in this ballpark. I think he feels especially confident.”
“It hasn’t been the greatest year for me to this point, but they know and I know that I’m better than how I’ve played,” Dickerson said. “I just needed that kind of day where it all comes together. It was a good feeling to have everybody pulling for me.”
Kapler made it clear that while more is expected of Dickerson, hitting just .217, not much more is expected. Being an occasional home threat and delivering in that manner may be enough.
“I just think he needs to be the better version of Alex Dickerson. That’s a guy who’s a really tough out at the plate against righties and occasionally has games with big damage like he had today. I don’t want Alex to put any additional pressure on himself to be perfect every time out. Just be productive and keep the line moving.”
Dickerson’s slam off reliever J.B. Bukauskas in the fifth was typical, Giants home run express delivery: a poorly placed pitch in the hitting zone that wasn’t missed. That Dickerson sent the pitch 437 feet for his career-best 11th home run of the season said it all. The slam ended an 0 for 17 stretch for the slugger.
Despite building a 7-1 lead, the Giants found themselves in a nail bitter with a D’Backs club that came in 40 games below .500 and was embarassed by the Dodgers on Sunday, losing 13-0. Josh Reddick got the Arizona comeback started with a two-run shot off Anthony DeSclafani in the fifth. Asdrubral Cabrera followed with another two-run shot, and Christian Walker’s two-run double got the D’Backs even in the seventh.
Reliever Jay Jackson was victimized by Walker, a surprise after Jackson gave the eight, neat appearances in July, and had put himself in line for a bigger role out of the Giants’ pen. Jackson’s command issues on Monday were apparent prior to facing Walker, but Kapler was reluctant to turn to any of his top three relievers after a weekend of extended activity against the Astros.
With the game tied, Kapler did find some success with newly reacquired Tony Watson and hot arm Jarlin Garcia, who pitched the ninth and tenth innings. That gave the Giants a chance to catch a collective breather, and rally in the tenth. Buster Posey started it with a double that chased home Brandon Crawford, the placed runner to start an extra inning. Dickerson’s line out advanced Posey to third, and Austin Slater walked. Steven Duggar followed with an RBI single, and Donovan Solano capped the rally with a ground out that allowed Slater to score.
The Giants gained a half game on the Dodgers and Padres, increasing their lead in the NL West to 3 1/2 games. The Giants have won six of eight and moved a season-best 28 games above .500 at 67-39. The season series against Arizona continues to be lopsided with the Giants capturing 10 of 11 meetings thus far.
On Tuesday, the veteran matchup sure to gain attention takes place with Johnny Cueto facing Madison Bumgarner, the former Giant and 2014 World Series hero at 6:40pm.